GREENSBORO — When Dorothy “Dottie” Milligan learned that a deserted farm off Old Oak Ridge Road would be replaced by the Greensboro Urban Loop, she found another way to preserve it.
In the early years of the 21st century, the artist painted bucolic scenes from the Clarence and Ellen Knight farm, in a series she called “The Vanishing Landscape.”
“Our environment is changing, and I’m trying to capture something that was here and will not be here anymore,” Milligan said in a 2002 interview.
Two paintings from that series will be part of a retrospective exhibition of Milligan’s art that opens today at The Artery Gallery.
The exhibition will feature about 40 of her paintings in oil, watercolor and pastels, framed and unframed. She painted on canvas, paper and wood.
They date from the 1980s, to when a stroke affected her vision, said her daughter, Lisa Milligan.
Dottie Milligan graduated from art school in Pittsburgh. In 1977, she and her husband and children, Lisa and Michael, moved to Greensboro from Buffalo, N.Y.
In Greensboro, she studied at UNCG in the foundry program.
Milligan died of stomach cancer in 2007 at age 78.
Lisa Milligan inherited her mother’s work after her father, Chet, moved from their Starmount home.
“It had been in closets, behind doors, in corners of my house, besides everything on my walls,” Lisa Milligan said. “I thought it was an injustice to her, to have her artwork not being shown.”
Lisa Milligan called Dave Thomas, who owns The Artery with Esia Ackley. They agreed to display Dottie Milligan’s work.
Thomas never met Dottie Milligan. But when he taught art, he said, many of his students either took classes with her or knew her well.
“I knew her so well through so many other artists and my art students,” Thomas said.
Dottie Milligan’s style “ranges from very truthful realism to a very nice style of abstract realism,” Thomas said. “She puts a lot of emotion into her scenes by using particular color schemes.”
She painted Maine seascapes and the French countryside. She displayed her work at the Greensboro Artists’ League, now the Center for Visual Artists, and at GreenHill gallery. People bought them to hang in their homes.
At least one of her paintings from Provence, France, will be displayed in The Artery show.
Dottie Milligan spent nearly two years at the old Knight farm, painting through every season to capture various views and scenes.
She said back in 2002 that they might be the most important works that she had ever done.
“The simple world there that we have known will no longer be there,” she said at the time.
Just as Dottie Milligan retained an attachment to the farm scenes, Lisa Milligan retains an emotional attachment to her mother’s artwork.
“I look at these paintings on my walls every day,” she said. “I am very, very blessed to have these paintings.”
She will keep many of her mother’s pieces, but she wants to find good homes for the others, with “people who will treasure her memory and her art.”
Prices will start at $75, with most ranging from $225 to $400.
“I will feel satisfied when I know somebody else can enjoy these paintings as much as I have,” Lisa Milligan said.